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Dissertation Greens

Rather than giving a long comment response to Priya's dissertating woes, I thought I'd post it. That way, we're actually talking about what we do (sort of) instead of any of the several topics we usually go on about.

1. I would like to note that we offered to open the futon, thereby turning it into a real bed. It was Priya's choice to sleep on it as a couch.

I have to point this out, because my mother has been known to read the blog, and I wouldn't want to be accused of being a bad host. Especially by my mother, who has guilt down to a fine art. Or possibly a science. Or, if we're following Foucault, both.

2. I myself have no trouble at all wandering off to work on something when visiting people. It's rarely something important, but still. Fanfic is sometimes (often?) much more exciting than being polite and friendly.

3. Um, yeah, maybe I won't leave Priya keys when she catsits next week after all.

4. Some of Priya's best friends are Republicans. She must have a whole group of friends I've never met.

I object to the assumption that lawyers have "ill-gotten gains." Some of those gains are quite legitimate. Also, there's this guy I know in NC that Priya should meet...

5. The wilds of Virginia are actually not that wild. S and I got lost in the wilds of Maryland last night. Much wilder. And the roads aren't any straighter than in Virginia. But there are fewer streetlights, a situation that I find distinctly creepy.

6. Ebay. It's all about ebay. You can buy things like (slightly used) toothbrushes and second homes on ebay. Also forklifts.

Okay, I really am going to get back to work now. I don't have any excuses like Priya.


More dissertation blues (or are they woes?)

Continuing on from Elizabeth's post, here're some more musings and questions on dissertating:

1. It comes after the need to find a place to live in. Though, after a month of bludging off friends, I am growing to like living on sofas. It’s a good thing I’m not one of the taller members of the human race. Sofas, futons, blow-up mattresses, floors, I can give you ratings on most of them by now.

2. Not sure if no. 1 is enough of an excuse. Though if I am living in any of the spaces mentioned above, I can’t really work on my proposal, can I? It’s not allowed when you are visiting other people to go off and try to work on it.
I wonder, if I don’t find anywhere to live in in the next few weeks, do I still have to work on my proposal? And, how about the many other things I’m supposed to be doing (book chapter, article, etc etc)?

3. I now have keys to about four different flats/houses in the DC metro area. Either my friends have too many keys or they just trust me far more than they should.

4. I'm concerned about how do I make myself “cool” so I can beat out the many other applicants for each of the room I have looked at so far? The last place gave me a questionnaire to fill in. This included sections on how I felt about gay people (indifferent, as I do about people in general), vegetarianism (evil to be rooted out of society but can be tolerated since most of my family belongs to this misguided group), Republicans (some of my best friends are some), the “coolest” job I have had (picking fruits in Northern Australia in summer) and what I plan to do in the future (marry a rich lawyer and live off his ill-gotten gains while I keep working on my dissertation. Hopefully, I’ll have a proposal to work off on by then).

Seriously though, I’m planning a paper on this room-searching process. Oh, about the survey? I didn’t fill it in. I just want some quiet space to live and cook in, not a general outpouring of feelings among housemates before they even start living together.

5. So, yes, there has been no work done on my PhD proposal so far. At least, no amendment to what was already there. I did do my part for social networking among the PhDs and benefitted from the cheap beer (though am not planning on making use of the tattoo information since I am a wuss). Does that count as part of the dissertating process? The conversations were mostly about food (strange Ghanian corn stuff and buried Nepali spinach) and Canada (and Canadian food). Both of these have nothing to do with my PhD or anybody else's.

6. On Monday, I return to my search for a room. Right now, I am bludging off some other friends in the wilds of Virginia. I have a basement of my own and feel rather like the thing that’s kept hidden in the basement though they frequently shout down the basement door when it’s time for me to come up and eat (which is fairly often since there is not much to do otherwise).

7. Oh, I can’t work on my proposal too because I forgot the converter plug that converts my (Australian version) computer plug to American. I actually forgot it in Denmark so now I have a plug that converts from American to Danish (which is useless here) but not one that converts the original (Australian) to American. And, since I don’t have a plug that I can plug into the socket in the walls here in America, I can’t work on my proposal which is in the computer. That’s a better excuse than the first one, I reckon.

Dissertation Blues

I really ought to post an entry about the importance of social networking in spreading information within phd cohorts. That way I could go on about cheap beer and my new favorite bartender (who gave me the name of his tattoo guy: information I intend to use in the very near future.)

Instead, I'm trying to finish a draft of my prospectus for a meeting on Monday with the chair of my committee. I haven't promised to have it done, but it seems like I ought to have something to show for the summer. Other than half a film treatment and a dead tomato plant, that is. So I shall spend the weekend before vacation typing away in my room, even though the weather has (finally!) become bearable.

I offer this tidbit for your enjoyment as penance: the real syllabus that colleges are inflicting on all those poor conservative students.


I especially like the middle of the term, when students are given assignments like:

Week 4. Readings--Prince Kropotkin, His Thoughts and Works
The goal of this week is to show why all government is evil and should be destroyed.
Your assignment is to blow up a symbol of capitalism. Or just blow up whatever you can find.

Week 5. Readings--V.I. Lenin, What Is To Be Done?
The goal of this week is to teach you how to instigate a revolution
Your assignment is to preach the oncoming revolution on the streets, to your parents, or in your church.

Week 6. Readings, Immanuel Wallerstein, World-Systems Analysis, An Introduction
The goal of this week is to show how the US controls the world and oppresses all people of color.
Your assignment is to pick one country and show how a revolution will end American dominance over it.


Work, quiz, sleep

That's pretty much it. Priya's right, I do know what happens in the new HP book, and I didn't read it. That's because the only way I can keep up with pop culture right now is to cheat. They're called spoilers, and I use them shamelessly.

And yet I still manage to find time for online quizzes. That's because I have my priorities in order. It isn't a good order, but it is an order of some sort. And so:
the Wit
(78% dark, 26% spontaneous, 33% vulgar)
your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean you're pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat.

I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer. Your sense of humor takes the most effort to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion.

Also, you probably loved the Office. If you don't know what I'm
talking about, check it out here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/theoffice/.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on dark
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 31% on spontaneous
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 68% on vulgar
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid
*I suspect that the high score on dark is due entirely to my love of Heathers.


Send your "bad science" stories

Remember the time when the drunk guy wanted to tell you all about the report which discussed the capacity of mice to absorb whisky? Or, the other time when you were told that it is okay to rip off one of the arms of an octopus because it will grow a new one? Well, if you do, write to the Guardian which has a new section on "Bad Science"

The aim of "Bad Science" is, and I quote,

"So it occurs to me: if I have a grandiose delusion, it is that we're engaged in a useful project here, the study of the Public Misunderstanding of Science. And this is uncharted territory. So I'm asking for qualitative research; I'm asking for your help in a grand experiment, with the widest possible sampling frame, that is: you. Only you can help me to document the stupidity that's out there."

How can you resist such a call? Write to Bad Science at bad.science@guardian.co.uk

Btw, I did start a new part-time job last week. Yes, I AM working. This counts as work too :-)

The Requisite Harry Potter Post

So, what about it, eh?

The identity of the half-blood prince: I guessed it. Actually, I had a hard time between a couple of choices but I guessed it.

Who dies?: I guessed that too. It was easy enough to do so towards the end. And, really, I think it was time s/he died anyway.

Who does the killing?: A total utter absolute shock. Total. I still don’t believe it. I reckon it’s a ploy. A ruse. A part of me wants to write emails to J.K. Rowling to tell her off.

But, I’m not about to talk of these things when my fellow blogger (and, presumably some of its readers) have not yet read HP6 (though Elizabeth seems to know what went on without reading it). Instead, I am going to write about this one incident when Dumbledore tells Harry that the prophecy, which says that neither Harry nor Voldemort can live while the other survives, did not become such until Voldemort found out about it and set about making it true.

So, what does that mean? We have already seen in the past few books that Neville could have been “The Chosen One” instead of Harry. The only reason Harry became TCO is because Voldemort made him so by targeting him and his family for death. We have also seen that Harry could have been The Evil Chosen One. He could have been in Slytherin, he can speak Parseltongue, and he isn’t a “good” student in the way that he does stuff which are considered to be bad (remember the unknown curse he used on Draco in this book?). But, he made choices which made him what he now is. To me, this is what makes the books fun since there are no heroes and villains, as such, who are entirely “good” or entirely “evil”. Compared to LOTR, for instance, when Frodo is quite clearly TCO, Harry isn’t. He is the reluctant chosen one. Or, the one who is made into the chosen one through circumstances and his own choices.

What does this say about fate and destiny? I was told last week, when discussing my PhD project with someone, that terrorists are genetically predestined to become such (yes, the guy I was talking to was a nutter). But, even in HP’s world of children and magic, there is no such thing. Harry’s father does not appear to have been a pleasant man. Snape, who is disliked heartily by Harry, was bullied by other students (including Harry's dad) for being different when at school (and for dirty and mean but, hey, can you really blame him for being mean?). Voldemort was ignored by his father and the choices he made after he entered Hogwarts were different to Harry’s.

This is why, to me, the HP series are so readable and are unlike other similar novels where the choice of who is to be a hero is clearer. I admit it’s been years since I read LOTR but, from what I remember, Frodo had little choice about taking the ring to Mt Doom, Saruman’s motivations were not made clear (he was Evil too with little or no non-Evil factors) and the universe of LOTR was more clearly divided into Good and Evil. That is why I always found Boromir compelling: he was one of the few people in the LOTR universe who wanted to use the ring for himself (though to do a "good" thing). And, there’s Gollum, of course. He, too, lapses between Good and Evil. The others, including (and, especially) Aragorn, Gimli and the rest were Good through and through.

But, this is not a post on LOTR. It’s on HP. Of course, I could go on and on about why HP became so popular and not any other children’s novel even though there are many novels, even fantasy novels, probably better written, more complex in their dealings of death and mortality and choices than HP. Philip Pullman’s series (which I saw on stage at one point) come to mind. HP, though, takes a “normal” universe, one that children everywhere can identify with (well, those children lucky enough to go to school and are able to read) and tweaks it to make it go beyond Good and Evil.

I bought the first three HP books for my sisters, both of whom are much younger than me. They were my gifts for them during one of my visits home from Australia. As Harry and his friends (and foes) have grown up, so have they. I find it fun that there’s a series that we can all read and enjoy and talk about, no matter where we are (one’s in Nepal and the other one’s in New Zealand). With its questions of fate and choices and its descriptions of a world of magic and school, HP is just plain fun. I can't wait for the next one, really.


Diseases and magic

I just finished reading the new Harry Potter book and am spending my time, when not being a LS flunkie, by doing blogthings in my office space.

This one tells me that I was a diseased magician in my previous life, lived in Alaska and died of dysentry.

There's a story in itself right there, I reckon.

I'll put up a proper post when I have time.


Title? Who needs a title?

I need a paper title for a conference this fall. I am absolute crap with titles. So instead of thinking of one, I'm blogging. In the hopes that a paper title will wander up and hit me in the head, I suppose. It seems more likely than the other option, which is that I will actually think of a decent title on my own.

ETA: Well, it didn't exactly wander up and hit me in the head. But a working title did show up in my email account, which is close enough. Knew that epidemiology listserv would come in handy someday.

Why I am not a lawyer

Yes, I went to law school. Yes, I passed a bar exam. But I am not a lawyer. Lawyers start out as associates, and that is a life I suspect I would loathe with every fiber of my being. It has its perks (being able to pay the bills and the possibility of an interesting case among them), but in the end I prefer to be able to sometimes go home and not answer the phone.

If I were a lawyer, I hope that I would write a blog like this one. (Yep, this was all a long lead-in for yet another blog you ought to read. You'd think you'd be used to it by now.) I'm linking to it today because there's a recent post about the law school application process. If only someone had sat me down before I applied and explained the rules.


More reasons not to blog

Looks like we can't even take up another career if our happy little blog torpedoes the (as yet unborn) academic one.

Priya's already discussed this topic, so I'll just send you off to Bitch, Ph.D. You ought to be reading her blog anyway.

Nanny Blogging

When job-searching, call a "blog" by any other name

According to this, bloggers aren't among the first people that come to mind when deciding on a short-list of candidates to be hired in academia.

After describing a recent job search process, the author writes about the candidates who had blogs: "The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum."

Eh? So the temptation to blog about the slag-like behaviour of certain colleagues, about the bloke who ended up with Ms X at the academia XMas party, and to indulge in activities more suited to reporters (and I use the word loosely) of The Sun just can't be resisted by one and all bloggers? And, read the paragraph again: having done NOTHING of the sort so far is also a sign that a blogger MIGHT do something in the future. Does it also mean that a blogger would be the first under suspicion if any "departmental dirty laundry" was being hung (no matter where)? I'd rather have someone slag me off in public (ie on a blog) than in private in any workplace. Also, has this bloke heard of living things, commonly called "people", those who go around and spread "DDL" to friends, family, colleagues, and even the family pets? It's a part of academia (or any other workplace).

He adds later, "Our blogger applicants came off reasonably well at the initial interview, but once we hung up the phone and called up their blogs, we got to know "the real them" -- better than we wanted, enough to conclude we didn't want to know more".

Basically, the bloggers were fine until these people Googled them (the blog address was often not provided in the cover letter) and started reading their blogs, which supposedly showed the "real them". What gives the author the idea that the "real them" were coming through these blogs and weren't what they heard/saw during the interviews? Do hirers automatically assume that because you write a blog (especially, if in my case, it contains a lot of whinging and posts about MP and football :-)) that is all you are?

To me, it makes more sense to write a non theory, non-IR blog (well, apart from a few posts) since we do the other stuff for a living. We talk IR all the time. Isn't this a problem in IR that things not related to states and "big issues" and "boring and often dead people" are seen as outside of the discipline? I could argue our blog is IR too (and thus the inside/outside dichotomy is being blurred) by why should I have to? Just because this bloke thinks bloggers should keep their fingers unmoving, should we start censoring what we write here in hopes of not losing out on that Very Important Job that we are sure to get if we had not blogged? At least Elizabeth has a law degree to fall back on. Me, I'd be stuck (but then I"d whinge about it on the blog :-))

He does say no one was rejected based on blogging alone but, after reading the article, blogging was seen as wholly negative in that job search process. Maybe, we can call blogging something else when applying for jobs. How about calling it "Expert in creatively expressing and summarising ideas in coherent but not-often-read form"?


Who says you won't use it later?

Is this just an English major thing? Or was this whole exchange really, really funny?

Goth v. Preppy: The Archie Paradigm

Girl #1: So, like, I'm deciding between these two guys. One's really hot, and like, Goth and stuff--he listens to Cradle of Filth--and the other's all preppy and sweet.
Girl #2: Uh huh. That's so Tess of the d'Urbervilles.
Girl #1: Uh huh. And so, I'm all conflicted. The preppy one's so sweet! He's trying to get me not to do drugs. He's all, "Don't do heroin!"
Girl #2: That's sweet, I guess. Wait: do you do drugs?
Girl #1: Well, no. I might have done pot once, but I was so wasted I couldn't tell.

--The Strand

From Overheard in New York

It's a theme! It's a theme! (but not in a theme park)

In a rather strange interlinkage of visual and visual media, I was watching Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (Remember "Every sperm is sacred..."?) while reading up on the news this morning when I ran across a BBC article that mentioned the new Pope's opposition to the Harry Potter novels.

In two letters, which you can find through www.lifesite.net , Cardinal Ratzinger (as he was then) wrote his views to Gabriele Kuby, an author whose book's theme was, and I quote, "...the Potter books corrupt the hearts of the young, preventing them from developing a properly ordered sense of good and evil, thus harming their relationship with God while that relationship is still in its infancy". (quote from the article, summarising Kuby's book)

The Pope agrees with Kuby, writing in one of the letters,

"It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly".

Hmm... I didn't know HP had so much power: to "deeply distort" a religion itself. After all, it's just a book. Shouldn't the powers that be be able to counteract this "subtle seduction"? (btw, isn't that a rather sexually-charged term to use to describe the effect of a book on children?)

So, add Muggles, Magic, Potions, Wizards, etc to the list of forbidden words.

PS: Apparently the former Pope had approved of Harry Potter. Does that mean that people could, in his time, read and quote HP without being sanctioned by the church but now can't? But, it's nearing the end of the series! How would you feel if you'd read this far (especially with the prophecy being revealed in the previous book) but couldn't read any further since HP is now on the "no reading this" list?


More words they can't say

Right, so we'll just call terrorism "happy joy fun times." That should keep the BBC happy.

I know, this isn't a new rule. And it's been discussed to death. But if I put it together with the stuff on epidemics from yesterday, it's a theme!

From Crooked TImber


And yet more quotes...

Another reason that I love West Wing:

You're not in anyway a helpful person.

I don't have to be; I have tenure.

No, don't call it an epidemic. Call it something cheerful, like "Double Chocolate Sundae"

From now on, here at ptsd we'll be referring to H5N1 as "cuddly bear."

This just in from Lawyers, Guns and Money.

Money quote, from the White House Office of Drug Control Policy:

If it's an epidemic, that implies that there is nothing we can do about it and we should lose hope.

Right, that's what we should do. What, an epidemic? Well, that's the game, then. I'm going to stock up on Power Bars and go home to hide in the basement until the dread terror kills off the guilty and the damned. Because it isn't like we could control or stop an epidemic. Nope, move along folks, nothing to be done here.

Over and beyond the inherent stupidity of such a remark, it is an interesting example of the importance of language and framing in policy. As long as we call a problem something cheerful, we don't have to worry about it and can stop funding efforts to control it. And once we call it an epidemic, well, there's nothing to be done, and we should apply our limited funds to some other problem.

So does the name really matter, when it comes to paying for prevention and control efforts?


It's a survey, so it must be science

Yep, that's right, I filled out a survey.

Should I be worried that I could think of a family member for almost all the professions? Basically, anything that wasn't a lawyer, a company head, or one other that I can't think of at the moment?

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

No wonder the syllabus required sequins

I know, I promised a serious post. But come on, how's a girl supposed to resist this?

Get the RuFoucalt Out of Here

HS girl #1: I have a question. No. She gotta question, but she makin' me ask you for her because she embarrassed. What's "drag school"? Thas where you go to learn howda be a drag queen?
Teacher guy: What? Drag school?
HS girl #2: Yeah, you said you was leavin' us because you gotta go to drag school.
Teacher guy: Grad school. I am leaving you because I am going to grad school.

--Prospect Park BBQ

From Overheard in New York

"I'll shout yous one"

Common refrain heard in pubs in Australia meaning the beers being bought by the person who's "shouting" you. Apparently it came from the days when rounds had to be shouted for (instead of having to wait in line, pushing through numerous people who refuse to move and all that)

Thanks to Slugger O' Toole, I discovered this. An American guy wanted to buy some beers for the police officers working to figure out the what? who? when? of the London bombings. You can follow the interactions between the bloggers and also marvel at the trust shown to an anonymous blogger by the American bloke (this just confirms my experience that Americans are ready to trust other people far quicker than are Nepalis, for instance)

I could write something about humanity. But that is not what went on here, I'd say. It is, perhaps, more an example of how someone came up with an innovative (and rewarding) way to say thank you to the many police officers who are working at the bomb scenes and how he and the blogger made it work (hopefully) and how it is still working.

Also, it's a great way to say thanks. At the prices you pay for beer in London, it was probably much appreciated :-)


Is the Fonz a reenactor?

Is the Fonz a reenactor?
Originally uploaded by omphale23.
Again the small child in uniform. But take a look at the soldier third from the right. Doesn't he look like Henry Winkler?

Tomorrow, a serious post. These are serious times, and I've got some stuff on being a guest lecturer and on watching and acting that I want to rant...um, I mean, post about.

Who needs fireworks when you've got bayonets

Living History
Originally uploaded by omphale23.
Right, so I've got more to say about surveillance and the activity of Civil War reenacting. But for now, here's a shot showing how I spent Independence Day. No, with the camera, not in the uniform.

Although there was a fairly recent case that required Gettysburg to allow women reenactors to participate in military units. And when we went to see the drills, there were women in uniform out on the field (but none with weapons that I saw.)

Two things: first, the color bearer has to be all of ten years old. And second, the regiment was fixing bayonets and marching toward the crowd.

And the crowd thought it was great.


The day so far...

I woke up this morning around 6am, blearily took out the dog and waited for her to do her thing(s) and wandered back inside to have coffee and check my email. Opened up the Internet where my home page is BBC News to find reports (at that time, there were not very many) about the London bombings.

At first, I just thought about the horror of it all and wondered about how it was done. Then, I remembered that my parents were supposed to leave today for Nepal from London. They'd left Liverpool (where they were staying with an aunt) early in the morning to catch the train to London, with plans to spend the day there before catching the underground to the airport.

I had to wait nearly three hours before finding out they had made it safely to the airport. These were pretty awful hours since there was no way to get information. In today's world, that might sound surprising but that is how it was. The news was not encouraging since phone lines were down, mobiles were jammed (not that my parents have mobiles) and transportation was uncertain. Just recently, my mother called from the airport saying they had got there okay and would wait there until they could check-in. Apparently, my parents found out on the train that there had been bombings in London but the details were unclear. They were told they could return back to Liverpool (and many others did) but decided to continue on, with a few other people, to the airport since they are supposed to leave later on today. According to my mother, despite the chaos in London, people were very helpful, the transport people and police were willing to help out and discuss alternative ways of getting around.

Only yesterday, the pictures we saw from London were of crowds of people cheering as they received news that the 2012 Olympic games would be held in London. Today, the pictures were different: mangled trains and buses, crying people, blood and sombre policepeople, panicked commuters as they tried to comprehend what happened. In the space of a few hours, the images had changed.

London's always been one of my favourite cities. I like the vibrancy it has and the many different types of peoples, languages, accents you hear as you walk around. Despite what Jacques Chirac recently said, the food is also excellent, especially once you leave Central London and go towards Camden Town, East End or the Notting Hill areas, as you can then find the many Indian curry places, the Eastern European fast food kiosks and the Thai restaurants. Then, there is the history. For a history and literature buff, London is a fantastic place: visit the areas where Jack the Ripper murdered his victims, or where Charles Dickens used to write (and write about) or where Sherlock Holmes supposedly lived. The great thing about the city is that you can walk around and run into something unexpected as when I found Bush House (where BBC World Service, which I grew up listening to, is broadcast from) when walking around aimlessly.

London, I am sure, will recover from this. Life, as they say, goes on. But, at a time when I am already having trouble explaining how I want to do my PhD and why I want to note the historical and social constructions of terrorists, acts such as these make it even more difficult to counteract the usual response: "So, you are saying that terrorists are made up then? How about (9/11, Bali bombings, London today, etc)? Were those who did it not terrorists?"

I do have an answer, I think. But, that is for another post. Today, I am just glad (selfishly) that my parents are all right and I hope they have a safe trip home.


Awkward advisors

As a grad student, I am (of course) a big fan of Piled Higher and Deeper. I think reading it religiously may be in the student handbook. If it isn't, it should be.

Weird that GSpice recently had a post on a similar topic--how hard it can be to be seen as having a close relationship with faculty.

So what other places are awkward for running into your advisor?

*Given that my advisors are both men, and I'm quite clearly not, these are disturbing in several ways*

Faster than a speeding bicycle

Not even a day into the G8 summit and the leader of the free world is already making the news. Spare a thought for the policeman who had to be taken to the local hospital when TLOTFW crashed into him. I'm sure the man was happily pedalling along the path when a speeding bicycle ran into his.

Don't they have rules similar to vehicles where if you fall/crash your bicycle more than a certain number of times, you are barred from riding it? Looks like TLOTFW needs something like that...or at the very least, a tutorial on what those brake things are for.

I get the feeling we're at the wrong school

What does DC have that compares with this?

I always knew somebody had Darwin's back.

With thanks to
Crooked Timber

Who? Why?

I wanted to do one of those "who said it and why?" things for a while and this just seemed perfect:

"I couldn't bear to watch (the final announcement). It is not often in this job that you get to punch the air and do a little jig and embrace the person standing next to you."

I would say it is (thankfully) not often in ANY job you get to do such things. Full story here.


(Mis)predicting the future now that a comet is gone

Next time you think of blowing up comets, expect this reaction from amateur astrologists experiencing "moral trauma"

Effect Measure: Bush hits Africa targets

It's nice to know we can all still laugh at something...

Effect Measure: Bush hits Africa targets


Keep track of Deep Impact

A bit too late, perhaps, but this is for our insomniac readers out there. Or those who can't go to sleep without reading up on the (so very exciting) posts we put up fairly regularly.

No, it's not a Hollywood blockbuster. It's Reality.

Check out the webcast here.


Blogging Live 8

Following on current tradition of blogging everything, the BBC had this up during Live 8.

A free ten-hour concert. Fantastic. Wish I'd been in London two weeks later than I was.

Me, the Killer

While Elizabeth found out what type of a postmodernist she is, I am housesitting (well, dogsitting) in the wilds of rural Virginia figuring out what type of killer I am.

Here you go (I especially like the "facial expression" part. I think that is just so me :-))


You are an

That means you are a professional and do your
job without mixing any emotions in it. In your
life you have probably been hurt many times and
have gotten some mental scars. This results in
you being distant from people. Though many
think that you are evil, you are not. What you
really are is a person, trying to forget your
pain and past. You are the person who never
seems to care and that is why being an assassin
fits you good. At least, that's what people
think. Even if you don't care that much for
your victims, you still have the ability to
care and to generally feel. It is not lost,
just a little forgotten. In crowds you tend to
not get to noticed, and dress in black or other
discrete colours. You don't being in the
spotlight and wish people would just leave you
alone. But once you do get close to someone you
have a hard time letting go and get real down
if you lose him/her.

Main weapon: Sniper
Quote: "The walls we build around
us to keep out the sadness also keep out the
joy" -Jim Rohn
Facial expression: Narrowed eyes

What Type of Killer Are You? [cool pictures]
brought to you by quizzilla

Postmodernist? Who, me?

In the spirit of lighthearted weekend posting, I offer my latest venture into the world of stupid internet quizzes, "What kind of postmodernist are you?"

Hands up if you're surprised by the result. Yeah, me neither.

theory slut
You are a Theory Slut. The true elite of the
postmodernists, you collect avant-garde
Indonesian hiphop compilations and eat journal
articles for breakfast. You positively live
for theory. It really doesn't matter what
kind, as long as the words are big and the
paragraph breaks few and far between.


Amusement parks are serious business

Amusement parks are serious business
Originally uploaded by omphale23.
Last one--this is the Nephew's first ride on the grown-up coaster. Note the wristband with his height. He was a half inch from the next one, which would have allowed him to ride almost every ride in the park.

It was sad to hear him asking the rest of the day "How about that one? Can I ride it? Are you sure they won't let me on?" We promised him he could try again next year, and then sent him off to try the Tilt-a-Whirl.

I don't think it was quite the same.

No self-respecting kid rides this, right?

No self-respecting kid rides this, right?
Originally uploaded by omphale23.
Tuesday at the greatest amusement park in the world (don't blame me--there are awards for this stuff, and it keeps winning). The nephew could only ride the kids' coasters last time, and so he took a spin on this for old times' sake.

Last time I had to ride it four times in a row with him. This time, he took his mother instead.

Just after this, we got hit with some weather and the kid almost plowed into a harmless old lady trying to get away from the thunder. As if we're going to get struck when we're surrounded by 15 tall metal rides.

Hometown blogging, part two

Ohio blogging
Originally uploaded by omphale23.
This is what happens when I don't go out to the bar on Fridays--too much free time, not enough beer.

When I say that the hills and trees here in the DC area creep me out, this is why: I come from a place where the land is flat and covered in produce; it used to be a very large swamp, so it's not so good for growing trees and such. Even the rocks are flat.

We build little mulch hills in the front yards to make it look like we have interesting geography, but nobody's fooled.

Hometown photoblogging

Originally uploaded by omphale23.
So I spent last week in my hometown--well, sort of. We actually spent a big chunk of the time doing the tourist thing in the area. Including this little tribute to one man's obsessive hobby, Train-O-Rama.

His family keeps it open, as a business/shrine, and it's surprisingly well done once you get over the inherent creepiness of the concept. Definitely a winner for the nephew, who is completely in love with all things that move on rails.

What's in the SC water?

So first there was the medical marijuana case. Then that lovely tribute to corporate freedom, Kelo v. New London. And now, as if it weren't miserable enough to sit through a sad, sad excuse of a Supreme Court session, Sandra Day O'Connor has announced her retirement.

Because what we really need is a chance for GWB to pick a justice out of his hat.